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Mike Gibbs: Michael Gibbs/Tanglewood 63,
This review is from: Michael Gibbs / Tanglewood 63 (Audio CD)
Mike Gibbs- Michael Gibbs/Tanglewood 63 (2 CDs) ASIN B00061GQ40
3 and a half stars maybe, largely for Mike Gibbs' writing; the polytonality, unusual voicings and unexpected resolutions all make for such an individual style which, at its best, can be recognized from just a few bars. The way he writes for strings, only fleetingly exposed here, indicates that he could have made his mark as a 'serious' concert composer.
One of the problems when the writing is so strong is- what does it leave the improviser to do? Really not many of the soloists are up to it on these albums. Kenny Wheeler who could probably sound good in any context rises to the occasion, but as for the rest...
The other problem is- it was 1970 and Mike Gibbs imagined mistakenly that rock rhythms were the cutting edge, and piled them into the mix. He has too much intelligence to get bogged down completely; his hints of polyrhythms and quasi-Balinese scales suggest some kind of imaginary folk-forms, but on the whole the chug and plod creates no sense of tension and it misses the relaxed buoyancy of swing too.
The greatest mistake was 'Five for England' where Chris Spedding is given 12 minutes to riff on little more than one chord; the guitarist produces some cute effects, but fails to develop them into any coherent structure. Only a few highly oblique interjections from the brass save it from total tedium.
Possibly the most remarkable track is 'Canticle' a work that is nearly all textures with hardly any discernible pulse or linear melody, just a gradual and intricate organic unfolding of musical colours.
We should be grateful to have these re-issues, but Mike Westbrook's 'Celebration' and 'Metropolis' and some of Keith Tippett's and Neil Ardley's work have stood the test of time better. Some people might prefer Gibbs' 'In the public interest' from a few years later, and not necessarily because of Gary Burton's presence.